Friday, December 21, 2007

Hello... and Goodbye

Posted by MANDI at 5:23 PM 5 comments
I had grand plans for blogging this week but... as you can see they kind of fell by the wayside.
We're off on our holiday to Perth tomorrow. The kids and I are packed, Hubby assures me his packing is 'almost finished', the presents are almost done - just one small box left to do. The floor needs a quick vacuum and mop but the rest of the house is done. The yard has been cleaned up so it's 'cyclone ready' just in case. The dog has gone for his holiday at the kennel. The end is in sight!
It's my birthday tomorrow - hmmm, what better way to spend the day with Hubby and the kids than in a car for 7 hours? We bought the celebrations forward a day and had presents this morning with birthday tea (whatever was left in the freezer, in this case spag bol!) tonight. I scored some lovely gifts - a cupcake stand and a pie dish that I'd bought a while ago and told Hubby to put away for me and a total surprise, a desktop drive for my computer. There were also lovely cards with special messages written and drawn and lots of hugs and kisses. I was thrilled!
We'll be back around the 6th January, so until then...
MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Running Out Of Time

Posted by MANDI at 8:22 PM 2 comments
Okay, I don't know where the last week went ! It seems like the days are zooming by although, sadly, the nights seem to zoom by too. I worked, cleaned up Offspring #2's puke, collected a somewhat worse-for-wear Hubby from his work Christmas lunch at 6pm (!) did end-of-year school stuff with and for Offspring #1, went out for dinner, went out for drinks, had friends to dinner, went to friends for farewells and birthday cake and somewhere in there I didn't quite get around to blogging.

So, for your general amusement and viewing pleasure - here are some photos of Offspring #2 doing 'art'.












P.S. She doesn't look like that anymore because I chopped her hair off today - probably not something I should consider as a career move or for her future beauty!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Updates and News

Posted by MANDI at 11:38 AM 1 comments
I did lots of baking over the weekend but have to say that nothing quite turned out how it was supposed to. That was a bit disappointing but it all still tasted okay so no real harm done. I'll share recipes and pics in a few days.
We had #1's pre-primary 'graduation' last week and it was very sweet. The kids had a little party lunch then the parents arrived for the presentation part of the day. They sang a couple of songs and received much applause from the assembled audience of parents and siblings. Every one in the class received a certificate and a small gift (a book) and shook the teacher's hand - some of the kids are real performers and even bowed to the audience. Then we looked through their portfolios and ooh-ed and aah-ed over their year's work. It was great to see the improvement in #1's writing and numbers and it was lovely to be able to see the difference a year has made in his drawings/paintings - from blobby looking things with teacher-written explanations to a recognisable picture of a Christmas tree. We finished with the re-opening of the playground after some work had been done and then Santa arrived in the police car to hand out presents and wish all the children a Merry Christmas.
#2 is sick AGAIN! I don't know what's going on with her but I'm going to guess that it's bugs from day-care. She did a spectacular wonder-chuck yesterday and covered the entire kitchen floor (TMI???) but was fine the rest of the day then did another one in the carpark at school this morning. She's asleep at the moment so we'll see how she goes when she wakes up.
I'm off round the country-side for work again. It's just an overnighter and only to Port Red Dirt but it will be two very long days. I'm due there at 8.30 tomorrow morning and it's a two-and-a-half hour drive so it will be a very early morning for me. I'm planning to leave by 3pm on Wednesday so, if all goes according to plan, I should be home for dinner.
Remember the job application I was helping Hubby with? He was offered the job but they couldn't come up with suitable housing and there were some other issues too so in the end he turned it down and is staying put. It's a bit disappointing, especially as 'they' have been trying to poach him since we arrived in town but after promising the world couldn't make it happen. That said, it's the right decision for now.
The upside of Hubby staying put is that we get to go 'home' for Christmas! Twelve days and counting. We're not taking a huge holiday this year but will still be gone for two weeks and we're all looking forward to it.
See you in a few days.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Gift Making

Posted by MANDI at 2:39 PM 6 comments
I'm away for work for a couple of days again next week and knew that I wouldn't be able to fit in a baking session for teacher's gifts. I put on my thinking cap and had a search through some old magazines and came across this cute idea in a Christmas issue of Better Homes and Gardens from a few years ago.







I was pleasantly surprised with how inexpensive these turned out to be. Each gift ended up costing about $7 and I had them all put together in under a couple of hours, even with Offspring #1 helping! To bake a nice bundle of mixed cookies for each of his four teachers (yep, 4!) and put them in something pretty would have taken much longer and ended up costing the same, if not more, so I was pretty pleased. Also I could make these last weekend when I had a little time and then just leave them sitting around till I needed them rather than having to bake myself into a frenzy the night before I needed them.




The little terracotta pots and the ribbon trimming them came from the local craft store, the candles were from a home-wares store and ridiculously cheap, the papers on the candles were from my craft stuff and the "pretty bit" on the front is a very inexpensive Christmas ornament from Kmart. They were all very easy to get hold of which is an absolute necessity here in Red Dirt Central since we have only one craft shop and one home-wares shop so if they don't have it and you can't find it at Coles, Kmart or Woolies then you're out of luck.





Anyway, I was pleased with how they turned out and I'm hoping the teachers will like them too.








Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's Moments Like These

Posted by MANDI at 10:33 PM 1 comments
that I remember what I love about teaching kids.






As you know I have done after-school tutoring throughout the year. I've had between three and four students on the go and, with the school year drawing to a close, have just finished up with them all. I get paid (darn well, too) for the tutoring and expect nothing more, though a thankyou is always much appreciated. I received lovely end of year thankyou speeches from most of the students and their parents but had an extra special one from the naughtiest, laziest, most rat-baggy one (who is secretly my favourite).




I was touched, especially when his mum made a point of telling me that he'd bought them with his own hard-earned money. He stammered out a very awkward little thankyou speech as he thrust the flowers in my general direction and I was so moved by the sweetness that shone through. It's not often that I miss teaching but this was one of those rare moments.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It Has Fruit...

Posted by MANDI at 9:39 PM 1 comments
so it must be good for you!


I picked up a bargain bag of ever-so-slightly over-ripe bananas last week but by the time I got around to using them they were just about dead. Not to worry, the deader the banana the sweeter the flavour when you turn it into a cake.


I didn't make the chocolate frosting for this, partly because my lot aren't too keen on icing but mostly because it has been so hot up here that with icing this would have had to be kept in the fridge which would have ruined the cake. The cake was really good on it's own but it would be so much better with frosting. There's always next time.


Banana Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Women's Weekly Cakes and Slices Cookbook





125g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup castor sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana (I used three bananas)
1/3 cup sour cream
2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Chocolate Frosting
125g packet cream cheese
30g butter
1/2 cups icing sugar
60g dark chocolate, melted



Grease a deep 20cm round cake pan, line base with paper; grease paper (I used a ring tin and greased it with canola spray).
Cream butter, essence and sugar in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time; beat until combined. Stir in half the banana with half the sour cream and half the sifted dry ingredients, then stir in remaining banana, sour cream and dry ingredients. Spread mixture into prepared pan. Bake in moderate oven for about 1 1/4 hours. Stand 5 minutes, before turning on to wire rack to cool. Spread cold cake with frosting.
Chocolate Frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter in small bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in half the sifted icing sugar, cooled chocolate , then remaining icing sugar. Beat until thick.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Back In The Kitchen

Posted by MANDI at 10:44 AM 2 comments
As you know I have been flat out of late and I've been finding it difficult to get organised. Being the control freak I am, this is doing my head in! As well as the chaos that has been created I have really missed cooking. Over the past year I've averaged five new recipes a week and for the past few weeks I've only managed the same old standby kind of dishes - spag bol (and lots of it), bbq's, rissoles and one batch of cookies. However, over the weekend I hit the kitchen and created a little bit of fun space for myself, and of course everyone got to share in the results.


Last night's dinner was a different kind of sausage and Hubby and I enjoyed them very much. The kids were less thrilled but liked them more after I removed the prosciutto around the outside. Offspring #2 was unwell most of the weekend so I'm not too concerned about her lack of interest, she ate the mashed potato so I figured we were on a good thing. We didn't have any tomato chutney and I think these would be really great with a chunky tomato and apple chutney.


Chicken,Fetta and Prosciutto Sausages
Australian Table, September 2007





500g lean chicken mince
50g low-fat fetta, crumbled
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup chopped parsley (I used dried mixed herbs and the fresh parsley would have been much nicer)
grated rind of 1 lemon (left it out)
4 thin slices prosciutto, cut in half lengthways
tomato chutney, to serve, optional (we didn't have any)

1. Combine chicken mince, fetta, garlic, parsley and lemon rind in a bowl. Mix well. With wet hands, divide mixture into eight and roll into sausage-shaped logs. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each sausage.
2. Spray a non-stick frying pan with cooking oil spray and heat on medium. Cook sausages for 5 minutes, turning, until golden and cooked through. Serve with tomato chutney, if desired.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Happy December

Posted by MANDI at 8:35 PM 1 comments


I love December. There's my birthday, our wedding anniversary, the end of the school year, and of course my favourite time - Christmas. Lots of celebrating. Lots of great food. What's not to love?




And so, because it is the first day of December (and common sense dictates that I can't do it any earlier) we put up the Christmas tree today. What was supposed to be a family affair was narrowed down as Offsring #2 and Hubby slumbered the afternoon away and Offspring #1 and I just couldn't wait any longer. #2 arrived in the living room just as we plugged in the lights and promptly declared it to be a 'pitty teeeee' which when translated means a pretty tree. #1 decided it was beautiful and 'just perfect' and I'm pretty darn pleased with it too.






We put up a couple of the lights for outside but I don't think I'll be able to convince Hubby to put all of them up this year. Oh well, there's always next year...




 

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